Wednesday, 25 February 2009
How different was the Web in 2006?
In his article "Jurassic Web" Farhad Manjoo in the online magazine Slade talks about how unrecognizable the Web in 1996 was compared with the Web today. He concludes that despite early trends which predate blogging and user-generated content, it was all fluff and nonsense.
I beg to disagree. In 1996 I was one of the Web generation, ordinary people who were creating websites, discussing digital creativity and applying it to real world challenges. We were creating early blogs - only we called them metajournals in those days. My first was on a site called LitWeb, which has sadly now gone, but anyone who usesLiveJournal or other blog/social networks would have recognised it.
Community and collaboration were the words that drove us in the early days of the Web - and it feels like it has turned full circle having taken a more commercial turn around the turn of the century.
For Manjoo to say that Geocities was the forerunner of user-generated content is to miss the whole ethos of the Web back then. We were collaborating, sharing information, in a way that would be recognised by the open source community today and we created websites which users were invited to contribute to and collaborate in developing the content for. Look at a project like the Noon Quilt (OK it was two years' later in 1998 but a development of what we were doing at the trAce Online Writing Community from 1996-2006)...Our children's writing website Kids on the Net was invented in 1996 with a website launched in 1997. From the start it was a place for children to publish their own writing, safely with full moderation. It is still online today and still publishing children's own writing. There are hundreds of thousands of pieces of content generated by the children themselves.
Yes there was no Google, yes for a company to have a website was still unusual. But the Web wasn't all that strange compared with today, because those of us who experimented with the potential of the technology knew what it was going to become and created the forerunners for the modes and behaviours that characterise the Web today.
posted by Helen Whitehead 2:44 PM